Cost of living payment: Jacinda Ardern urges Kiwis to ensure IRD has bank details, David Seymour calls Govt 'incompetent'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is pleading for New Zealanders to check the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has their bank account details so they don't miss out on the upcoming cost of living payment.

More than 2.1 million New Zealanders will on Monday receive the first portion of the $350 cost of living payment. The eligible population is anyone who earns $70,000 or less, isn't entitled to the Winter Energy Payment, and is aged 18 years or older.

But IRD, which is administering the payment, doesn't have the bank account details of more than 164,000 New Zealanders, meaning they could miss out.

The department, as well as Revenue Minister David Parker, have urged Kiwis to ensure their bank account details are known by IRD, with the Prime Minister sending the message on Thursday.

"Over 2 million New Zealanders are eligible for the cost of living payment, anyone who is earning $70,000 or less, and we are wanting to ensure that all of those who are eligible are receiving it," she told reporters on Thursday.

"There is a portion of New Zealanders who IRD may not have their bank details so we are making a plea for people just to check IRD has those accurate details and then there is nothing more that they have to do."

She said the Government wanted "to make this as easy as possible". 

"We wanted to reach people as easily as possible because it is so important at this time."

ACT's David Seymour believes it's "embarrassing" the "incompetent" Government can't track down the 160,000 bank accounts.

"The Government is hiring 300 contractors, and spending a massive $14 million, to run the cost of living payment scheme. This is a farcical and embarrassing attempt to ‘solve’ the cost of living crisis," said Seymour.

"The simplest approach is to allow New Zealanders to keep more of their money."

ACT has been calling for the tax system to be simplified, with two rates - 17.5 percent for income up to $70,000 and 28 percent thereafter. It would also offer a low- and middle-income tax offset.

IRD is using radio marketing, social media posts and external website messaging to encourage Kiwis to make sure the department has their bank account details. A targeted email and letter campaign has been launched for customers not registered with IRD's myIR service, while myIR alerts have been sent out for those already with accounts. 

"Despite using these methods to encourage customers to update their bank accounts, there will always be a number of customers who will not respond because they do not want Inland Revenue to have their bank account details," an IRD spokesperson told Newshub this week. 

Those who want to provide their account details can update their details through myIR, or by ringing 0800 257 777. IRD advises that the 0800 number can be rung 24/7 and there is no wait time. 

"If you're eligible for the Cost of Living Payment but we cannot pay it to you because we do not have your bank account number - you have until 31 March 2024 to update your details," the IRD website said.

IRD won't be ringing people to get details, so anyone who gets a call purporting to be from the department should treat it as a scam and not provide information.